WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain offered a dose of reality about trying to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law: It’s not going to happen. Republicans are already starting to show signs of intraparty feuding over how aggressively they should press for a full repeal of the law.
On Wednesday, the Arizona Republican was asked whether he would vote for a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “Yeah, but that won’t happen, it will be vetoed by the president,” McCain said. “There are certain portions of that we might get significant number of Democratic votes.”
It seems certain that both chambers will vote to repeal the law and send a bill to Obama to veto. But it's what they do afterwards that will matter. Conservatives in Congress are already prepared to be confrontational if their leadership doesn't take an aggressive approach to eliminating the law, like trying to attach a repeal to must-pass spending legislation. Many are calling for a full repeal, no matter what it takes to get the job done. They’ve already shown that they're willing to play tough: In 2013 they attached a defunding of the health care law to a spending bill, creating the dispute that shut down the government for 16 days.
The effort to repeal ACA could again create a schism within the party. Republican leaders have emphasized the need to appear to be governing, instead of bickering, in order to win the White House in 2016.
McCain was a critic of the shutdown at the time, blaming Republicans and repeatedly calling for a solution. The former presidential nominee reiterated on Wednesday that the GOP can’t focus just on attacking Obama.
“I would rather see what our progressive and positive agenda is, rather than spending all our time trying to block the president," McCain said. "If we’re going to win the presidency in 2016, we well better have proposed an agenda of getting things done, not just stopping the president.”